Facebook Email Pinterest Twitter X Instagram Tiktok Icon YouTube Icon Headphones Icon Favorite Navigation Search Icon Forum Search Icon Main Search Icon Close Icon Video Play Icon Indicator Arrow Icon Close Icon Hamburger/Search Icon Plus Icon Arrow Down Icon Video Guide Icon Article Guide Icon Modal Close Icon Guide Search Icon

Conversational Threads

cutting off long sweater

shelly0312 | Posted in General Sewing Info on

I would like to cut off a too long sweater of man-made materials:  acrylic, cotton, polyester.  It is very soft,  I think I’d call it stockinette (??) knit.  What’s the vote:  should I try to conceal the cut or somehow “lettuce” the bottom edge?



  1. starzoe | | #1

    Is this a ready-to-wear sweater? You can successfully cut some of it off at the hem. Firstly I would suggest machine stitching just above the cut. We don't know if it is knitted from the top down or bottom up. It won't unravel if it is knit from the bottom up, but would if from top down, so to be safe, machine stitch.

    The problem here is how to finish the edge? The best idea probably would be to hem it and decide before cutting how much of a hem you will need, I would tend to be generous, say 1 1/2 inches or so. And then hand-stitch the hem.

    I don't think the lettuce effect would work, but you could practice on the piece you cut off.

    1. BernaWeaves | | #2

      Whoa!  I'm confused.  For me, knitting unravels equally from both directions as it is just interconnected loops.  How do you get yours to ravel (or not unravel) in only one direction

      Thanks, Berna

      1. starzoe | | #3

        No, knitting will only freely unravel from one end. If you knit a sweater from the top down, it will ravel from the bottom, if you knit a sleeve from the bottom up, it will ravel freely only from the sleeve cap. You will get loose loops if you cut it on the unravel end but it won't run from there.Now, this holds true for hand knitting, I have no idea what machine knitting will do, although I suspect the same rule applies. Incidentally ravel, or as some say unravel is known as frogging by handkitters. Ripit ripit.

        1. User avater
          Flax | | #4

          I knit on a knitting machine.Almost always machine knitting is done from the bottom up. I cut a swatch of plain stockinet at the bottom and it definataly unravels, not as badly as from the top. I once shortened the sleeves of a sweater that I knit that had a rolled hem. I did it by cutting 1 inch or so from where I wanted the finished hem to be I then unraveled a few rows then threaded a yarn needle with the yarn. Then I finished the loops with a stitch that resembled cursive e's it is what I call a mock cast-on. Its not easy to explain but if you are handy and can translate or if someone else can translate for me, it may work...Flax

          Edited 1/16/2008 12:34 am ET by Flax

        2. BernaWeaves | | #6


          That's odd, because I've been knitting since I was 5, and I can unravel anything in either direction.   I wonder if it's the stitch you are using or the way you do your selvedges?

          I was taught to knit in England in school by ladies who had grown up during WWII.  They taught me to knit without knots, so that the sweater could be unravelled at the end of the year and knit into a newer model.  Thrifty, from the days of rationing.


          1. katina | | #7

            Yes, knitting unravels in either direction - top down or bottom up. In fact, I've just this afternoon cut armholes into a shawl for a friend who wants to knit sleeves into it. I snipped one stitch and was easily able to unravel stitches above and below, thus making the armhole opening.


          2. starzoe | | #8

            Sorry, I beg to differ, found this with Google:Unravelling
            Most sweaters are knit from the bottom to the top so you'll unravel them starting at the shoulders. If the yarn won't unravel from the top then it just means the sweater was knit in the opposite direction, start unravelling those sweater pieces at the bottom. Most sleeves are knit from the cuff to the shoulder so first try unravelling at the top of the sleeve. If that doesn't work start at the cuff.You can unravel two different ways: 1) Unravel into balls and then make hanks. 2) Unravel the yarn directly into hanks. I prefer #1 because I use my ball winder to unravel the yarn from the sweater. I find this easier than unravelling it directly onto the swift. (See the final section for tips on how to form hanks without a swift.)ALWAYS secure the hanks so they won't tangle. Loosely tie pieces of scrap yarn in three or four places around the hank. I use acrylic yarn for the ties so there isn't any chance of dye staining the recycled yarn.

          3. User avater
            Flax | | #9

            What you found on Google is true in the sense of UNRAVELING a knitted piece, however if you cut a sweater off at the bottom you will find that it will too "unravel" just not the same way. The stitches will "run". Either way to hem the sweater you have to secure the edge somehow.

          4. rodezzy | | #10

            Have you guys heard of steeking hand knitted pieces?  Well, in steeking, you machine sew around the area to be cut to secure the yarn...then cut below the stitched area or between the stitched area.  That means there must be stitching on each side.  I don't know what exactly you guys are trying to do, but this is one way to cut a knitted piece and not have it ravel.  I was shown this a long time ago for cutting old sweaters into cardigans.  Or whatever you want to change knitted items into, you can stabilize the area by stitching above where you want to cut.  Just a thought. 

            This site explains the origins of steeking, the concepts and how tos.


          5. starzoe | | #11

            I guess it all depends on the definition of unraveling. In any case, I agree with you that something has to be done to the bottom of the sweater when it is cut, and in fact mentioned this in my first post.

        3. damascusannie | | #15

          Hey, we call it frog stitching in sewing, too. When you take out knitting one stitch at a time, it's called "tink"ing . (Knit spelled backwards.)

          1. starzoe | | #16

            Yes, I know about that, even after knitting for 69 years, I still do my fair share of both.

          2. damascusannie | | #17

            Yeah, tinking and seam ripping are very useful skills. I always tell beginning quilters that your seam ripper is your friend.Anne

    2. Pattiann42 | | #5

      Sorry, sent to wrong member.  Re-posted.

      Edited 1/16/2008 6:40 pm ET by spicegirl1

      Edited 1/16/2008 6:42 pm ET by spicegirl1

  2. Pattiann42 | | #12

    Recently, a fearless young lady demonstrated this on Sewing With Nancy.  She and a young friend had reconstructed old sweaters into new fashion sweaters.  I wasn't paying a lot of attention and must have recorded over it because I cannot find it, but I do remember iron-on fusible was mentioned.

    This is how I would do it -  If a plain hem at the bottom will work for the material in the sweater, cut a strip of iron-on fusible tricot interfacing (the width you want the hem to be) and place it (iron it on) where you want the new bottom of the sweater to be.  This should provide a little give and a little support.  Then serge a new cut edge for the amount you will be folding up.  A zig-zag stitch should be enough to hold the hem and and still allow some give.

    I suggest trying this first on an old sweater you are not that fond of, or pick one up at Goodwill and use it for testing.

    1. sewornate | | #13

      I had an alteration customer who wanted me to cut down a sweater that was too long, both body and sleeves.  I advised him to exchange or otherwise return it, but he said his girl friend gave it to him and he did not want to do that.  Here is how I did it.  There was a ribbing at the bottom.  I pinned a tuck above the ribbing and used a serger to sew and remove the excess.  (Both sleeves and body).  You end up with a seam where there was none before just above the ribbing.  The biggest problem I had with this was adjusting the serger stitching to the knit fabric I had, as you do not have fabric to practice on.  You need some sweater knit to use to adjust serger tensions.  I did it and the customer was happy.   


      1. Pattiann42 | | #14

        Perseverance can pay off!

This post is archived.

Threads Insider

Get instant access to hundreds of videos, tutorials, projects, and more.

Start Your Free Trial

Already an Insider? Log in

Conversational Threads

Recent Posts and Replies

  • |
  • |
  • |
  • |
  • |
  • |

Threads Insider Exclusives

View All
View All